I am sure that many of you will be spending Thanksgiving with family this year. Our relationships with our family members are the most expressive relationships we have – both good and bad. They are the people who know us the best because they have known us the longest. However, the holidays don’t always bring out the best in us. The holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Year’s tends to be one of the most stressful times of the year and, let’s face it, none of us is at our best when we are stressed out.
Our lives seem to be taken over by cooking, shopping, wrapping, decorating and preparing for family to visit. It is the preparing for family to visit that I want to talk about today. The most important preparation we can do is to spend some time with the Lord. I know there is laundry to do, cleaning to be done, recipes to find, groceries that need to be bought and rooms to be prepared for company. BUT, the most important preparations take place in our hearts and minds even before the company arrives.
Many of us only see our extended family a couple of times a year. The words we speak, the way we behave and the way we respond to others will be the memory our family members take with them until the next time we are all together. The holidays are a wonderful time for us to practice the two greatest commandments. When Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is, He responds in Matthew 22:37-39. Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
If during the holiday season, we start by putting our focus where it needs to be, on God, we will be filling our heart and mind with Him and His love for us. Then we are told to love others. Can you imagine how family gatherings might look a little different if we would love God first and then love others? Maybe some of the same arguments and hurt feelings wouldn’t rear their ugly heads. Instead of seeing our family members the way they were at one time or the way they once treated us, we could see them from God’s perspective and love them the way He first loved us.
Start your holiday season off on the right foot and put your focus on the Lord first, then love your family members the way Christ loves you!